Help Me, I’m Four

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The Relatable Rider

By April D. Ray

Having a support group when working with a young horse has been a lifesaver for me over the last year and a half. I am so fortunate to have my very own “young horse club” at the barn and we all happen to be bringing along four-year-old horses. While the horses are all at different levels and have varied personalities, there is a unique camaraderie in sharing the journey of a young horse with friends. The number of times I have commiserated with them over Fire’s antics and our struggles is countless, and I don’t expect it to end anytime soon. The reassurance of hearing Oh, I’ve been there, and we got through it is truly priceless.

We try to have team meetings on occasion (complete with matching breeches), although sometimes riding three four-year-olds together isn’t the wisest choice. Admittedly, my horse is the troublemaker in the class, and must be sent home early so as not to disturb everyone else.  

There are certain challenges when working with a young horse – challenges that can make you question your own abilities, your decision-making capabilities, and your sanity. Having others in the same boat to bounce ideas around with, to vent to, and to share the pain makes those challenges less daunting. A supportive coach at the barn is the icing on the cake. Having seasoned horses available to babysit the babies gives us all hope that one day, our horses too will grow up and behave.   

While all horse owners have something in common, there is something special about having a young horse, and I’m delighted to be sharing this journey with others.


Main photo: (L-R) Heather on Carma, April on Fire, Riki on Cowboy. Kristina McKinnon